TIP #1: HOLD THE HUGS - FOR NOW
Allow time for you and your puppy or new dog to get to know each other before you try to handle him completely. Dogs can be just as particular as humans about being touched by strangers and as long as your relationship is brand new, proceed with respect. You wouldn’t ask for more than a kiss on a first date, right?
To make it a pleasant experience for your dog to be touched, offer a treat every time you touch him in a new area. Any kind of grooming or holding should be minimal at first and always combined with lots of delectable treats. If your dog is on medication of some kind, be extra gentle and careful. A good rule of thumb is to let the dog initiate petting sessions until you know each other well.
TIP #2: WHAT A BASIC MEET & GREET SHOULD LOOK LIKE
A good meet and greet consists of the two dogs smoothly making muzzle to muzzle contact followed by some mutual rear investigation. Then either play will break out or the dogs will go their separate ways. A male may urinate on the next available vertical surface.
Meet and greets may feature stiffness, posturing and snarky stuff. The latter sometimes indicates some lack of social skill or confidence, or simply routine friction in normal dog interactions.
It's a good general policy with unknown quantity dogs to break meet and greets off after several seconds, if the dogs don't do so themselves. I recommend allowing posturing, stiffness or standing over, provided there is rapid enough behavior change, i.e. the dogs don't get stuck in some volatile looking stance such as a stiff and growly T-position (perpendicular to each other with one dog's chin or chest over withers of other). If there is some snarking or if they get stuck in some stiff posture, break them off. Happy talk them while walking away if one or both dogs are too stiff.
If you want to try again after breaking it off, wait a couple of minutes before re-engaging to let them cool off. Keep the dogs moving during the break and keep up the happy talk even as you disengage. Put the problem dog(s) through some obedience paces at some distance. Then try again.
- excerpted from Fight! A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-Dog Aggression
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, CTDI